February 2021

What is the root cause of violence and hate?

It’s a question many people have been asking after a group of insurrectionists (including white supremasits and conspiracy theorists) were spurred on by Donald Trump to storm the US Capitol in response to what they thought was a rigged election. Despite causing chaos and putting lives on the line some of the rioters have no regrets and would do it again if they could.

Of course, this isn’t just about cultural politics on the left or violent nationalism on the right; it’s about the bigger worry of mob rule. If anything, COVID-19 could lead to more violent conflict and deadly crime. And even though we should be united in the war against the pandemic, we seem to be too busy fighting each other instead.

Divided we fall

COVID-19 is also leading to an erosion of democracy and respect for human rights, with many repressive government regimes using the pandemic as an excuse to treat people however they want. This is clear when it comes to immigration policies, which (especially in the US) have been about building walls, separating families, and exploiting employees, even though migrant workers and asylum seekers just want and deserve the same freedom as everyone else.

Ultimately, the only way to heal our broken relationships is to turn bad conflict into good conflict. It’s about standing up to the people in power who use their positions to bully, manipulate, and abuse. It’s also about being less defensive and instead having more empathy and showing more love, much like Ian McEwan writes in Atonement (also available on Audible):

It isn’t only wickedness and scheming that makes people unhappy, it is confusion and misunderstanding; above all, it is the failure to grasp the simple truth that other people are as real as you.

Open your heart.